Thesis:A major challenge to "faith" surfaces when personal control is taken away.
Introduction:We began a consideration of what is typically called, "The Feeding of the Five Thousand", last week. We began where Luke began: setting the stage. We saw that Luke is dealing with the larger issue of what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus. The chapter begins with Jesus commanding The Twelve to execute a specific task without making any provisions for themselves. The chapter ends with people making excuses for why they do not intend to give Jesus the right to tell them what to do. The "big issue" of the chapter is the revelation of one of the specific characteristics of the "faith" that it takes to be a disciple: the willingness to subject the quality of one's "life" to Jesus' unambiguous instruction.
We also saw that one of the major sub-theses of the chapter has to do with "tetrarchs" -- people who think they have a right to tell others what to do when what they are going to tell them is contrary to the Word of God.
This morning we are going to find that Luke understood this "tetrarch mentality" to be a deeply seated problem area that justifies itself with a claim of ambiguity regarding the meaning of the Word of God so that it can simply continue to tell others what to do. It is no accident that Luke recorded Herod's "perplexity" and neither is it an accident that he wrote in our text that "The Twelve" decided to attempt to take things into their own hands and were deliberately stymied by Jesus.
The lesson is profound; it is a major challenge to "faith" when God takes our "control" away.
I. The Disciples "Pragmatism".
A. The day "began to decline".
1. On the one hand, this is not an unusual reality; it happens 36,525 times every century and has occurred at least two million times in history.
2. On the other hand, Luke's terminology is deliberate and is only found seven times in the entire New Testament.
a. Of these seven times, two have to do with the day "declining" and all of the rest have to do with someone/thing being in abject submission to someone else.
b. The most significant New Testament use is John 19:30 where, once Jesus had humbled Himself even to the death of the cross as one deliberately subject to His Father, He "bowed" His head and died.
c. The point is made: the "day" was under the absolute dominion of the Word of God and went the way it always does because of that dominion.
B. But "The Twelve" did not intend to be "as the day".
1. Luke's record is that "The Twelve" came to Jesus.
a. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that this intensified form of the verbal idea of "coming" includes "intention".
b. Up to this point in Luke's record, every time he used this word it was in view of a plan by Jesus to throw a miraculous monkey wrench into the mix.
c. This means that the record, so far, is always of someone having "an intention" and it is completely dominated by Jesus' intention.
d. In other words, our text this morning is about "The Twelve" attempting to control "life" under the "day's subjection to the Word of God".
1) The Twelve knew they could not do anything about the "decline of the day".
2) But they apparently did think they could make the decisions about what needed to be done in the light of it.
2. Luke's record is that "The Twelve" told Jesus what to do in light of the "facts of life".
a. The day is in decline.
b. The people need to rest and eat.
c. The uninhabited region is totally unsuited for the people's "need".
d. Jesus, apparently, does not consider or, worse, does not care about these "minor needs".
e. So, we, guys, need to go together and tell Him what to do.
3. The fact is that neither "The Twelve", nor most of the people who have read Luke's record, have any problem at all with this approach to the facts of life and Jesus' obliviousness to them.
4. The bottom line here is that "The Twelve" had no problem with telling Jesus what to do so that He would tell the crowd what to do: they were knee-jerk controllers who were, themselves, more oblivious to the real needs of life than Jesus ever was.
C. Neither did "The Twelve" have any problem with claiming that lodging and food were of such paramount importance that they needed to interrupt what Jesus was saying and doing.
1. In Mark 8:1-9 it is recorded that Jesus fed 4,000 people after they had been with Him for three days without food.
2. In Luke 10:41-42 it is recorded that Jesus refused to be scolded by Martha for being so fixated on teaching that He ignored "the facts of life", one of which is "eating".
3. In John 4:32 Jesus flat out told "The Twelve" that their fixation on rest and food kept them from "knowing" what "Life" is all about.
D. Apparently "The Twelve" were not terribly concerned about their rest and food issues.
1. From their own mouths we know they did not have any food even for themselves.
2. From the preceding text we know that they had been schooled in trusting Jesus for their food and covering.
3. From the present text we conclude that "The Twelve" had made two critical distinctions which reveal something profound about themselves.
a. They distinguished themselves from Jesus and put Him under their wisdom.
b. They distinguished themselves from the multitude and put them in an inferior category (we are committed, but we do not trust them to be so).
c. What this reveals is plain: The Twelve were "controllers" who planned to be the Messiah's tetrarchs in the Age to Come.
II. Jesus' "Bomb".
A. When "disciples" make the mistake of thinking they have a handle on "Life" and are qualified to make decisions for others that are not theirs to make, they need to be taken down a notch.
B. Jesus did this with four Greek words that take five English ones to translate: You give them to eat.
C. Jesus did this because of the need of The Twelve: a kind of "faith" that does not rest upon one's own control over the situation.
1. To have one's "control" altogether removed is a great test of faith.
2. An even greater test is to have this "control" removed when it seems obvious that the "need" is not going to be met.